Explore Expressions and Landscapes with Local Artist Julia von Metzsch Ramos
By Diane Kilgore
If all inspiration is considered divine, then surely 67 Newbury Street has been multiply blessed. No matter the door you use to enter the Gothic revival-style church building, the gift of art past and present, sacred and secular will surround you.
Within Boston’s landmark Church of the Covenant is Gallery NAGA. The gallery is currently showing the work of Julia von Metzsch Ramos, a local artist whose present collection “Evaporating Landscapes” has been called “vigorous and distinctive” by curators. They say “Ramos uses transparent layers of paint to achieve depth and illusion. This disjunction between the layers of paint application creates a tension particularly well suited to the ever-changing New England weather.”
Interviewing the artist helped explain some critical landmarks in her evolving developmental process of expression. Throughout childhood, Julia’s aesthetic sensitivities expanded through travel, music and studies at Boston University. Going beyond her undergraduate degree, this gallerina continued to explore art’s juxtaposition in life by earning her MFA. Working as a teaching fellow, mentoring and being mentored, she was surrounded by the creative energies of both faculty and other graduate students. Intuitively, Ramos’ scope grew, broadening her explorations to include music, and photography. She feels those sensibilities are now best expressed using oil on panel.
“My recent compositions took a lifetime to get to because it took me years to figure out how to paint just what I wanted to paint,” she said. “I was painting islands over and over again, and I couldn’t figure out why and then I realized it was not the island I was interested in as it was the cutting through and breaking up of water, and the moisture all around.”
Ramos said she had been inwardly focused but now challenges herself by asking “What am I not painting?” Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s ability to break up dull space and John Walker’s capacity to fly over landscapes, tipping them showing the sky through broken bits of land and color, Ramos said she prays for days that are overcast so she can draw and paint various forms of water.
“In my latest pieces, I can’t ignore feminine energy. My art is no longer about an under painting nicely drawn out with a filled in seascape,” she said. “It’s more about treating the whole painting as a monotype. What I started to do with the last body of work was paint things I thought I would not be able to paint, mostly because the light and the atmosphere of an evaporating landscape seemed too elusive. I would say over half the of the paintings in my current show were a real leap of faith capturing light, snow and passing storms.”
The woman who prefers to wear yoga pants and do handstands when things aren’t going well, added “when I have a decent idea that needs to be worked out, it can take a couple of hours or days to figure out. Sometimes I have to make a sketch to work out all the ‘bad’ aspects of the idea and get to a place where the idea has no compositional doubts.” This 31-year-old artist absorbs inspiration from long walks, hanging at the Coolidge theater; a good night’s sleep or a really bad night’s sleep gravitates to working within a tight palette of blues, and mixed grays for composition.
Ramos’ dream-inspired monochromatic exploration of atmosphere, water, and islands will continue to engage and mystify visitors of “Evaporating Landscapes” at Gallery NAGA in Boston until March 28.